Band of Angels (1957)
Release Date: August 3, 1957
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Yvonne de Carlo
Available on DVD here
In this Civil War epic, De Carlo is Amantha Starr, a Kentucky belle who has lived a life of privilege on her father’s plantation. While she is away at finishing school, her father dies. When she returns for his funeral, she learns that as her father was deep in debt and all his assets are being sold. She is shocked when, as the debt collectors round up his slaves for auction, she is told that she too will be on the auction block. She was never told that her mother, long deceased, was an African American slave. She is immediately put on a boat for New Orleans to be part of a slave auction. Wealthy Hamish Bond (Gable) shows up and wins her for $5,000. At first, she is very unhappy and disagreeable towards Hamish, but soon she grows great affection for him. She turns down his his offer for her to be sent to Cincinnati to be free and joins him instead on his plantation in southern Louisiana. But their romance is doomed when Amantha learns the truth about Hamish’s past.
Clark’s signed contract:
“I bid five thousand dollars.” first line
“According to what you say, she’s a bargain at five thousand, isn’t she?”
“You know I know better than most men that money is no cure-all. I used to think it was. I used to think it would open the door to friendship and other essentials more important than power. I used to believe it was everything. A drug for loneliness, a painkiller for certain memories–a whole apothecary shop for every problem of life.”
“Hey that is a pretty gown. And you set it off too.”
“Oh, so you can smile. Why, I didn’t think you could. I caught you red-handed!”
“You talk about freedom. You think I’ve got freedom? I’ve got a past I’d like to forget. But I can’t run away from it, no more than you can run away from what you are.”
“I guess down in my heart I’ll always be what I was–a damn Yankee skipper.”
“Listen, forget everything–everything that’s happened. And me.”
“Oh yes, I know your ability with a dueling pistol. But don’t bank on it with me.”
“I’ve know you a long time. A man doesn’t kill an old friend fast. It’s taken me fifteen years; I guess I can wait a minute longer and watch you sweat while I tell you just how I’m going to kill you.”
“There’s no place for you here or anywhere–with me.”
“It’s pretty hard for me to get the shakes over the likes of you because I’ve known you since you were no bigger than a shucked oyster.”
“Mandy, you did forgive–everything. Rau-Ru–I guess he felt he couldn’t be free unless I was, you–all of us.”
“He’s even more than that.” last lines
Behind the Scenes:
Based on a bestselling novel by Robert Penn Warren.
Shooting began in January 1957.
The exteriors were shot on location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Clark and Kay traveled there together and stayed for six weeks.
During the location shoot, Clark celebrated his 56th birthday. Kay threw a surprise party for him at the Baton Rouge Country Club.
Clark does not appear until about 26 minutes into the film.
Max Steiner composed the score. He also composed the score of Gone with the Wind.
The film was rushed through pre-production so it would hit theaters before MGM’s Civil War epic, Raintree County.
The film was a complete flop and was critically panned. It was inevitably compared to Gone with the Wind and critics found the chemistry between Clark and Yvonne de Carlo “absurd.” Although Parnell is usually mentioned as being Clark’s worst and most critically panned film, technically Band of Angels lost more money and received far worse reviews.